Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Army of Darkness (1992) Review

Army of Darkness poster
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Also Known As: Evil Dead III, Evil Dead 3, Medieval Dead

The final film in one of my favorite trilogies of all time, and definitely one of the best horror trilogies of all time (maybe only surpassed by Romero's Living Dead series).

This film is much more comedy orientated. The first Evil Dead was straight up horror. The second one was horror, but with a very heavy focus on comedy. The third is comedy, with a light focus on horror. There isn't really any scary parts in here, but damn are there some funny ones.

The plot picks up from the end of Evil Dead II, and Ash has gone back in time to a medieval setting to fight off an army of the undead. The plot leads to some completely ridiculous moments and highly memorable scenes. We see Ash fight his evil self, we see him get attacked by books, it's all what you'd expect from a film with Bruce Campbell in it.

By this one Bruce Campbell as Ash is a full-fledged badass. Killing deadites with his chainsaw and boomstick, dropping one-liners and kissing babes all the meanwhile. It's fucking awesome. 

Though this one isn't really as scary as the last two, it still manages to deliver a creepy atmosphere. This is greatly due to the great set design. The graveyard scene is definitely my favorite, feeling straight out of a Gothic Horror film. Not to mention that it really does feel like a true medieval setting, with castles and whatnot.

The army of skeletons are also very threatening. I mean, there's tons of them. They really did a good job making it feel like an actual army. It would have been very easy to make the deadite army just a bunch of generic minion skeletons, but instead they gave every minion personality. Firstly, every skeleton has a facial expression, mostly by means of arched eyebrows. That alone makes them unique.

But each deadite also is humorous. Whether it be the Scottish deadites (who some how have beards on their bones) or the cowardly deadites. It all adds to the humor of the film, but it does so while giving the enemy personality. Which is great.

The skeleton deadites in Army of Darkness

Plus the deadites stop-motion compliments their creepy factor wonderfully. Because what would a skeleton move like? They wouldn't move seamlessly and smoothly, no, they'd be shaky, unstable, and unnatural looking. Which the stop-motion achieves, making them more realistic due to unrealistic effects. Marvelous.

The effects here are truly amazing. The Army of Darkness DVD (I have the Screwhead edition) has a bonus feature on the making of the deadites. They actually built trenches to walk through so they could hold the deadites up. They had to make tons of those skeletons only to be destroyed, and many times they had to make them right there on set inbetween shoots. If you get hold of the DVD, be sure to check out the bonus features.

Though I still think the original Evil Dead had the best special effects overall.

Bruce Campbell getting his face stretched in Army of Darkness

I needn't say much about the humor. It's funny as hell. Bruce Campbell's one-liners are not only funny, but so is his slapstick performance. Or "Splatstick" as he calls it. I'd expect that Bruce came out with a few bumps and bruises by the time this film was done. I'd easily rank this film as one of the top 25 funniest films I've ever seen.

Sam Raimi does a fabulous job directing. Returning are the signature camera angles from the first two, albeit not as prominently featured.

Bruce Campbell as Ash with his boomstick in Army of Darkness

There are two different endings, both of which I've seen. Surprisingly, I actually loved both endings. One ending wraps it up, and the other leaves it open for a sequel. Both are awesome, and that's saying something coming from me, who tends to be very picky about endings.

So, yes, Army of Darkness is my favorite of the Evil Dead films. I don't consider it a horror film though, so I'd still say the first two are better horror flicks, but this one is just so fun to watch. Highly recommended. 

4.5/5 stars

Purchase Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD - Stream

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